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Marshall hails boro’s African-American stars

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Borough President Helen Marshall honored five people and one organization for their contributions to the community and awarded $1,000 scholarships to six Queens students during the annual African American Heritage Month Awards reception at the Citi Building in Long Island City.The honorees included Linda Bannerman-Martin, head of the Queens Community Library's Black Heritage Collection, who has spent 14 years building the collection at East Elmhurst's Langston Hughes Cultural Center."You represent the community," Bannerman-Martin told the attendees. "Without you, Langston Hughes [Cultural Center] wouldn't exist."Marshall honored Carolyn Vance DeVore for operating the Devore Dance Center in St. Albans, which Marshall called "a second home for students.""Working with youth today is so hard," an emotional DeVore told the audience, noting a former student had nominated her for the award. "After all these years, to have someone remember you, it's what my life is about."Also honored was Henry Carter, who founded the Jackson Heights-based Wheelchair Charities Inc. in 1973."I grew up in Queens in the projects," said Carter, now the senior executive vice president of Long Island City Bank. He said he started the charity in 1973, after a friend was paralyzed."About a week before my friend got shot, I asked him to stay off the corner," he recalled.Today, the group has provided more than 500 motorized wheelchairs to paraplegic and quadriplegic people, and is working to establish a new school for quadriplegic people, he said.One of the honorees brought a beneficiary of his work with him. Pastor James Pullings, founder of Leviticus Church of God in Christ, was honored for feeding the hungry and helping victims of Hurricane Katrina."I didn't do it by myself," he said of the hurricane relief effort. "It took many churches, synagogues and nonprofits."Pullings brought Katrina victim Audrey Mason with him. Taking the microphone at the podium on the 50th floor of the Citi Building in Long Island City, Mason broke into a gospel song."I come a long way, by the grace of God," she sang as snowflakes pelted the balcony window behind her.Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

Updated 6:57 pm, October 10, 2011
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